There is a time and a place for greasy hair: On the 2013 spring runways and in the musical 'Grease' on Danny Zuko. The list ends there.
But during the summer, your skin goes into oil-production overdrive — and yes, that applies to your scalp, too. Styling products (even dry shampoo) and overdoing it on conditioner can also contribute to greasy buildup that winds up weighing down strands and making them look dull and generally pretty sad. Here's our complete guide on how to deal.
Here's why your hair is greasy
"The most common reason that someone has an oily or greasy scalp is the fact that he or she is genetically prone to such," says Dr. Jeannette Graf, the director of dermatology at Omni Aesthetics MD in New York City. "Hormonal imbalances can also play a role. Very often an oily, greasy scalp is accompanied by facial acne and vice versa." But there are also some environmental elements that can exacerbate the situation. Exercising (as you sweat more, your skin produces more sebum), warm weather (again, more sweat = more sebum) and overdoing it on styling products can all play a role, says Graf.
Another sneaky contributing factor when it comes to greasy hair? Your hands. "Stop touching your hair. Every time you do, your fingers are adding more oil," says hairstylist Nick Arrojo. "You'll have a harder time making your stands look less greasy if you keep messing with it." So, if you absolutely must touch your hair, touch it with a hair brush, which can actually be a helpful tool for quickly diffusing oil. "Brushing your hair is the oldest trick int the book for making it feel fresh," says Arrojo. "A bristle brush will break up dead skin cells at the scalp, move oil along the lengths of your strands for shine, and stimulate blood flow to your scalp." He suggests his own paddle brush and recommends brushing your hair for a full five minutes, "moving hair back and forth around your head" for the best results.
One thing that doesn't cause oil production, though you've probably heard that it can? Shampooing. There's a misconception floating around of late that washing your hair too often will only increase oil production. Not so, says Graf. "This is a myth. Shampooing removes excess oil. It doesn't produce oil."
Your plan of attack
The first course of action if you're looking to ward off greasy hair, says Graf, is the obvious one. "Generally speaking, dandruff shampoos and clarifying shampoos can help, as do masks that absorb excess oil," she says. (Check out the gallery below for some of her product picks.) Graf is also very much on board with dry shampoos. "I'm a big fan. [They] not only absorb oil and cleanse, but also add body, which is great for oily hair as it tends to go limp," she says. If those over-the-counter options don't seem to be cutting it, or if there's a "scaly scalp condition" accompanying the oiliness, Graf points to a few treatments your dermatologist can administer. "I prescribe dandruff shampoos or a cortisone treatment. For this condition, I also recommend therapeutic shampoos for scaly scalp."
When in doubt, try an updo or an accessory
If you don't have time to wash your hair and just brushing it or dry shampooing it doesn't seem to be working, use the greasiness to your advantage. Pull your hair into a sleek ponytail or braid — it'll likely hold better. Or go an even more obvious route: "If you don't feel comfortable with how greasy your hair is looking or feeling, use accessories," says Arrojo. Try a floppy, wide-brimmed hat or a headband to pull focus and cover up at the roots.
For the best greasy-hair-fighting products, check out the gallery below.
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